“Gary Clail gets the credit here but there are all kinds of folks involved in this coolly groovy yet grimly apocalyptic few minutes from 1991, with On-U Sound at the heart of it all. I’d say the 1980s were more their time, when their fusion of dub, punk, politics, NOISE mattered most. It manifested in various bands, singers, poets, players, but it was pretty much always Adrian Sherwood working the final mix. With a track like False Leader pulling it all together, throwing down a gauntlet that the future’s still trying to figure out. And yes, they are still at it.” (Philip Random)
In which Keith Leblanc, straight outa Connecticut, and by way of outfits like Sugarhill Records, Tackhead, Little Axe (and a bunch more) reminds us of exactly what 1986 felt like – the best part anyway. Big beats (bigger than man had ever heard before), cool noise, strange new technologies alchemizing, boiling over, eager to smash the planet, change everything forever. And they would. Planet smashing was definitely what it was all about in the 80s. The planet needed smashing, musically speaking, that is.
“Prince (and his Revolution) go drug free psychedelic in the middle of the least psychedelic decade since at least the 1950s, with the title track of their first post Purple Rain album. And it works. The whole album works in its multi-coloured way, not bothering to try to measure up to what had come before, just being its own voluptuous thing. And, for the record, the 1980s were actually quite psychedelic … if you were going to the right parties, hanging around in the right rec-rooms, mountaintops, isolated beaches and islands. Psychedelia was definitely a more isolated thing that decade, and all the stronger for it, like being part of some great and mysterious undefined resistance. What were we resisting? Pretty much everything, it seems.” (Philip Random)
“I pretty much gave up on Bob Dylan in the 1980s. Yeah, the old songs were mostly still gathering no moss, but ever since he’d stumbled out of all the Jesus stuff, nothing fresh or necessary seemed to be happening. Everything overproduced, voice way too thin, barely cutting the mix at all, and it kept getting worse. But then, from out of nowhere, right at the end of the decade, the man suddenly delivers Oh Mercy, with Political World the lead off track, telling no lies, taking no prisoners. Like he’d been undercover the whole time, pretending lame, but always taking notes, and now here he was, filing his report, and deep and rich it was. It may even have brought down Soviet Union.” (Philip Random)
“Believe it or not, it was actually half-way normal in certain circles to hate the Beatles at a certain point in the later 1980s, mainly due to twenty plus years of over-adulation, overexposure, over-everything. I remember one guy in particular, Ray, who had it narrowed down to only one song, the only Beatles track he could abide anymore, and he didn’t even know the title, just ‘from the White album, I think, the one about Sir Walter Raleigh being a stupid git for bringing tobacco to England.’ Ray was trying to quit smoking at the time, suffering insomnia as a result, so he was miles past pleasantries. The Winter of Hate, we called it – those bile filled seasons of righteous aggravation and antipathy. The polar opposite of the Summer of Love. Ronald Reagan was also to blame.” (Philip Random)
In which Severed Heads remind us that there’s joy in repetition, or maybe just madness; and truth in the notion that many of the so-called Industrial artists of the 1980s only got worse as they got better at figuring out their instruments and related technology, got to sounding more and more like normal musicians. In Severed Heads case, that means they’d peaked long before I ever heard them via any number of cassette only releases. But fortunately, that truth eventually found me via Clifford Darling, Please Don’t Live In The Past, a double vinyl compilation full of delightfully strange and, if needs be, antagonistic excursions.
“One more from that lost and forgotten alt-reality wherein the 1980s were everything they should have been and a record like the Undertones‘ Love Parade hit the toppermost of the poppermost – melodic, soulful, full of light, and so damned popular we all got sick of it. But it wasn’t so we didn’t, so thank all gods for that. And man, that Feargal Sharkey could sing.” (Philip Random)
“Maybe I’d would’ve liked them more if they hadn’t call themselves the Psychedelic Furs. Or as a friend once put it – too much fur, not enough psychedelic. But that doesn’t apply to the first album, which was cool and dark and working more edges than any normal reality could offer. And a rare sound that was in 1980, the new decade dawning with all of its overblown and over-shiny colours and sounds and whatever else. In fact, you can do a pretty good job of tracking all that by just lining up the first three Psychedelic Furs album covers in chronological order. Not bad. Just not getting better.” (Philip Random)
“A nifty bit of Bowie genius from 1979’s Lodger, the comparatively overlooked album that capped off his so-called Berlin Trilogy. So-called because Lodger was actually recorded in Switzerland and NYC in and around various tours. But Berlin was never far away from Bowie’s heart and brain in those days, the friction of its divided soul fueling mutant sounds and angles that couldn’t seem to help invent the future — the decade to be known as the 1980s.” (Philip Random)